Fitness influencer and trainer Jeff Nippard recently released the second episode of his push-pull-legs training series on YouTube. Nippard is a natural bodybuilder and powerlifter from Canada. He is known for sharing science-backed fitness content on his YouTube channel, which is followed by more than 3.5 million netizens.
In recent months, Nippard has made some thoroughly researched videos that challenge the conventional notions of fitness and bodybuilding. In his two-part series, Nippard explored the principles of minimalist training philosophy and showed how you could incorporate the minimalist training approach into your training for maximum gains without spending countless hours in the gym. Obesity or weight gain is one of the biggest lifestyle-related problems that people face in today’s world. While there are many ‘quick fixes’ to this issue, a long-term solution eludes most individuals that wish to shed extra pounds. Nippard, in one of his recent videos, shared the strategies to ‘get lean and stay lean’ for the long term.
The Canadian fitness expert is working on a six-part push-pull-day series on his YouTube channel and shared the first episode — the ultimate push-day workout — in Jan. 2023. On Feb. 13, 2023, Nippard released the second episode, which broke down an effective pull-day workout for maximum gains. Apart from the exercises, Nippard shared some insightful and science-based information to educate the viewers. So without further delay, let’s see what Nippard has brought for fitness enthusiasts this time.
Jeff Nippard shares a pull-day workout
Nippard advised starting the training session with a warm-up drill that should include a few minutes on a treadmill or Stairmaster followed by dynamic warm-up movements like arm circles and cable external rotations.
Nippard advised starting the workout with this vertical pulling movement. It should include four feeder sets of the medium-grip lat pulldown followed by two working sets to failure. He learned the concept of feeder sets from his mentor John Meadows.
“It’s basically a way of warming up where we’ll do four or five feeder sets gradually building up in weight until you get to one all-out set to failure.”
Nippard explained that the first set is done with a lightweight for ten reps. This set should be done with minimal exertion and focus on increasing the blood flow to the target muscle group. The second set follows after a minute or two’s rest. However, the weight is slightly more, getting you to an RPE of four to five. The weight is increased in the next two sets to reach an RPE of seven or eight. At this point, you go a step further and do the fifth set to all-out failure at ten reps.
“The argument you will hear against doing feeder sets is that they might end up fatiguing you for the main working set. So, some might argue that it’d be better to do a shorter warm-up with less sets and reps so that you get to the working sets faster,” Nippard admitted.
Nippard takes this same approach for most exercises when he is trying to overload the muscles with more weight.
“However, on a more mind-muscle connection-based exercises like lat pulldown — where many people struggle to find a good mind-muscle connection with their back — I find that feeder sets can accomplish two things: First, they can help you get into a groove with the movement so that by the time you reach the failure set, your lats are engaging much better. Second, they can be helpful in finding the right weight for the failure set,” Nippard opined.
Nippard advised doing two more sets to failure after two to three minutes of rest. Following this, he prefers to do a drop set by reducing the weight by approximately 30 percent.
Nippard advises keeping a medium grip that is neither too wide nor too close. It helps achieve a perfect range of motion while maintaining the emphasis on the back.
“I’d also recommend using straps on your failure sets. This way, your grip strength won’t limit the number of reps that your back can do. I also do find that most people are able to feel a stronger mind-muscle connection when they strap in. If you don’t have straps, I will recommend at least using a thumbless grip,” Nippard added.
Omni-Grip Chest-Supported Machine Row
The second exercise on a back day should be this horizontal pulling / rowing movement. Omni-grip means using a different grip for each set of the exercise. Nippard advises using different grips because the back is a complex muscle group. Working this muscle group with slightly different grips from different angles can help emphasize every muscle.
Nippard uses a Panatta chest-supported rows machine for this exercise. However, you can do this exercise on any chest-supported row machine. Someone that does not have access to machines can use dumbbells while resting the chest against an incline bench.
“Every pull day should have at least two main types of exercises — the vertical pull like the lat pulldown we just did and the horizontal pull like the machine row we’re doing here now. While both exercises will hit the entire back to a substantial degree, lat pulldowns will emphasize the lat pulldowns and the teres muscles. Rows will emphasize traps and rhomboids and the mid-back, especially if we focus on actively squeezing the shoulder blades together,” Nippard stated.
Superset: Bottom Half Dumbbell Pullover and Static Lat Stretch (30-sec)
Nippard advises doing this superset next to stimulate the back further. Nippard calls the first exercise ‘bottom half’ dumbbell pullovers because the top half of the range of motion is completely cut off as there is no tension on the lats in that phase of the movement. The preferred order of exercises for completing this superset is:
- 1st set of bottom half dumbbell pullover
- Stretch the right lat for 30 seconds; stretch the left lat for 30 seconds
- 30 seconds break
- 2nd set of bottom half dumbbell pullover
- Stretch the left lat for 30 seconds; stretch the right lat for 30 seconds
Omni-Direction Face Pull
The fourth exercise in the pull-day workout is the omni-direction face pull. Omni-direction means pulling the weight at different angles for each set. Similar to the chest-supported machine rows, omni-direction pulling aims to work the muscles from different angles for complete development.
“While it is true that the vertical pull and the horizontal pull are the only two movements you really need to grow your back, I think if we’re trying to maximize the back development, hitting things from a variety of different angles is likely more optimal,” Nippard explained.
EZ Bar Curl
This should be the first biceps-focused exercise in the pull-day workout. Nippard advised doing only two sets of this exercise, maintaining a 6-8 rep range. He shed light on the importance of low-rep bicep work:
“Here, we are using some decent weight and focusing on progressive overload in a low to moderate rep zone. You can treat this like a bench press or a deadlift where you should track the weights you’re using over time and make sure either the weight or the number of reps you’re hitting is increasing from week to week.”
According to Nippard, using a little bit of hip drive is okay to get the weight moving as long as you control the negative on every rep.
Bottom-Half Dumbbell Preacher Curl
Nippard suggested finishing the pull-day workout with this exercise. He advised doing the bottom half reps that keep the biceps mostly stretched. He cited a 2021 study that found doing the bottom-half dumbbell preacher curls (0 to 50-degree elbow flexion) helped gain more than twice the muscle thickness than doing the top-half dumbbell preacher curls. This proved that the bottom half of the preacher curls was more effective in achieving muscle hypertrophy than the top half.
Nippard prefers doing the dumbbell preacher curls unilaterally. He starts with the weaker arm and then matches the weight and number of reps with the stronger arm. Doing the exercise unilaterally helps him focus on the muscle, and using the weaker arm first helps remove muscle and strength imbalances.
Overall, the workout should include:
- 5 Minutes on the Treadmill or Stairmaster
- 10 Arm Circles (per side)
- 10 Cable External Rotations (per side)
- 4 Feeder Sets (10 reps each)
- 2 Working Sets to failure (Aim to reach failure at the same number of reps in both sets)
- Drop set (Shave the weight by 30 percent)
Omni-grip Chest-Supported Machine Row
- Wide grip: 1 set of 10 to 12 reps
- Medium grip: 1 set of 10 to 12 reps
- Narrow grip: 1 set of 10 to 12 reps
Superset: Bottom-Half Dumbbell Pullover and Static Lat Stretch
- Bottom Half Dumbbell Pullover: 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Static Lat Stretch: 2 sets of 30 seconds hold
Omni-Direction Face Pull
- Low-to-High Face Pull: 1 set of 12 to 15 reps
- Mid-to-Mid Face Pull: 1 set of 12 to 15 reps
- High-to-Low Face Pull: 1 set of 12 to 15 reps
- 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps
Bottom Half Dumbbell Preacher Curl
- 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Nippard’s bodybuilding advice is based on scientific data and years of experience. Although no perfect and universal way of training fits every individual, giving this pull-day workout a try could be worth it for many gym-goers.
You can watch the full video below, courtesy of Jeff Nippard’s YouTube channel: